Head Lines

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

My kids would attest that, of my many foibles, I am at my least calm when I am stuck in traffic. I have an explanation; not an excuse.

When it comes to commuting to school or work, I have been exceptionally spoiled my entire life. The past 17 years I have had the privilege of living where I work. No car necessary. Prior to this, when we lived in Toronto, I would leave to work before 6:00 a.m. There was very little traffic and it took me 10 minutes to get to my destination. When I lived in Hamilton, Ontario, I would cycle to work. When I worked in Ottawa, for 10 years I lived in residence as a boarding housemaster. Again, no car necessary. During my university days I could walk, skateboard or cycle to class. During high school, again in Ottawa, it took about 20 minutes by car to get to school and the lion’s share of the drive was along the Rideau Canal; there was one traffic light on the canal back then.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

While observing stay-at-home orders, like billions of other people around the world with nowhere to go, I certainly find myself sitting and talking more than ever. And, talking about more substantive matters regarding issues affecting our school, the local community and countries the world over. There are serious issues facing us these days and I think the reality is that the immediate existential threats of pandemics, population growth and the negative impacts of climate change on our planet, have forced these conversations – and many other important issues – into mainstream media, Zoom calls, our collective consciousness and found a seat around the dinner table.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

We all make mistakes. And, we all know that we will make more. “To err is human.”

But what governs your daily behaviours? Whom do you listen to or take direction from?

Let me ask you a few more questions: Why do you wear a mask during the pandemic? Do you drive the speed limit? Do you stand when you hear another country’s national anthem? Do you respect a moment of silence during a funeral service? Do you have heightened respect for your elders? If there is an extra slice of pizza at a party, who gets it?

There is likely no single authority or rulebook that you rely upon in order to make everyday, routine decisions. It depends. Sometimes there is your own internal voice guiding you. Sometimes you might hear your mother or father’s voice. Perhaps, the Bible or the Koran. A prime minister or premier. The CEO of the company. The policy manual. Your spouse.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Judging by my own relatives, it appears that as you get older it is harder to follow the language of younger people. And, not just because of hearing loss. Kids invent their own words, or they borrow the phrases they hear from friends or in favourite songs or films. I guess we did too in our younger days. But, to be honest, as of late, I was finding it hard to understand conversations in my own house, let alone at the School.

I thought it would be a good distraction if I provided a list of some of the terms that are used these days by the younger generation. (Instead of focussing on the new adult language of the pandemic with words and expressions such as pivot, flatten the curve, N95, emergency brakes and assorted others.)

This short guide will enable you to better understand your kids and their friends. Warning: Do not use these terms yourself. Timing, inflection and emphasis are critical and age makes it very “uncool” to insert these into conversation.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

In the history of humankind there have been a host of world-changing and life-changing events. Some took place over time; some were immediate. With the light at the end of the tunnel offered by ramping up vaccine programs, recent conversations have turned to how the pandemic will change our lives going forward.

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Seriously, have you ever wanted spring more?!

Longer, warmer days. The heat of the sun. You don’t even need to move; just being in the presence of the sights, sounds and smells of the most promising of the four seasons is enough.

Spring is change. The dormancy of winter foliage and fauna transitioning into life, growth and hope. Surely, we all prefer green rather than brown. Warmth over cold. Outside rather than inside. Bright colours and light over the dullness of monochrome and darkness.

Even the word “spring” brings to mind a jump, a bounce, a trampoline, a catapult. To “spring into action!” Leaving a present state and propelling into a future state. And, boy, do we want to leave the present state of affairs impacting our planet and community!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

As we are all aware, last week marked the one-year anniversary of COVID-19. Among an ocean of loneliness, loss, isolation and inactivity being marked for millions around the world, I forced myself to at least be grateful for the benefits technology has afforded families to remain connected. For my family, technology allowed us to order online groceries to be delivered to my elderly parents who live 300 kilometres away in Ottawa; have a face-to-face Zoom call with our daughter who is in Halifax, 1,700 kilometres away; text relatives in the U.K., 5,500 kilometres away. Here at TCS, I was able to speak to the entire student body online on Monday, including those around the world who are part of our TCS Connect program. And then I was able to speak to all the educational staff, again on a Zoom call, on Wednesday morning.

However, the truth is: I have a love-hate-love relationship with technology.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Gutenberg printing press is widely recognized as one of the greatest inventions of humankind. In short, the printing press enabled humans to share large amounts of information with a large amount of people. For adults reading this blog post, you will know that print materials were the primary source of information growing up and for centuries before you.

Not today.

Approximately 18 months ago, I asked the entire Senior School student body how many people had read the newspaper that morning. Not a single hand was raised. “Ugh,” I thought to myself at the time. Fifty years ago, at least 50 hands would have been raised. After all, newspapers were delivered to dorm rooms before the sun rose.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Like most parents and people in positions of responsibility, I have a very strong inclination, personally and professionally, towards searching for the positive. And I extend and encourage this thinking to kids: both my own kids and the students of TCS. You could say that I am a “glass half full” kind of guy; I like to recognize the learnings that can come out of adversity. Hence, I also believe that positivity and optimism breed more of the same – even during a pandemic.

This proclivity towards “searching for the positive during the negative” has prompted me to look for further information and research on, for example, the resiliency of children during or after natural disasters and traumatic global events like war. Some available insights can also be gleaned from our parents or grandparents who may have some experience, as children, in managing economic recessions or depressions, wars, now eradicated illnesses, and significant world events. How did they do it?

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

One of the more interesting features of the last 12 months has been the increase in “city folk” interested in “country living.” This can be measured, in part, by a surge in real estate sales and prices. Within a three-hour radius of Toronto, in particular, demand is up and housing and cottage prices having increased by approximately 30% in the Kawartha Lakes, Quinte and Simcoe Districts. Apparently even house sales in the four provinces that make up our east coast (Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) have increased between 9% and 15%.

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